Mail.app’s Photo Browser


Mail.app’s Photo Browser
Mac Tip #319/12-Dec-2007

While you’re free to use whatever software you like on your Mac, there can be advantages to using the software Apple provides. That’s because it’s highly integrated, allowing you to easily move information between applications.

iPhoto is a good example of this integration, as it shows up in many applications in the form of the Media Manager or Photo Browser.

Note: I’m using Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5) when I write these Tips. If you’re using an older version of the Mac Operating System some things may not be the same.

Find a photo

In the old days you had to begin in iPhoto if you wanted to email a photo. Now you start by creating a new message in Apple Mail.

To include a photo from your iPhoto Library click the Photo Browser button in the email message’s Toolbar. The Photo Browser window appears.

Resize the window if you like

The Photo Browser window can be resized in the usual ways. I like to drag the diagonal bars in the bottom right corner to make it bigger so it displays more photos at a time. Drag the dividing line between the list of albums and the photos themselves to make either part bigger.

Find a photo

Select an album in the top part of the window and scroll around or use the search field to find the photo you want to send. Type part of a filename into the search field to filter the list of photos.

Customise the display

Hold down the Control key and click in the photo area. A contextual menu appears. If you’d prefer to see a list of photos choose Display as List. Call up the contextual menu again to choose to display extra columns for dimensions and file type.

Insert a photo into a message

Select the photo to send and drag it into the body of the email message. Then close the Photo Browser window, or move it out of the way.

Status Bar information

The Status Bar at the bottom of the email message now displays information about the size of the message. It also includes an ‘Image Size’ pop-up that allows you to resize the included image on the fly.

Resize the image

Experiment with different sizes from the pop-up. You’ll see the image dimensions change. In general, as the image is made smaller, so the message size decreases.

In two screenshots I have the photo at its actual size — it fills the message window and ‘weighs’ 79Kb; and at a small size — around a quarter the size of the message window, and ‘weighing’ only 61Kb. I used the OmniDazzle software for the screenshot to add a highlighted border around the Status Bar and darken the rest of the image.

Because the photo I started with was already sized for a web page or email message the difference wasn’t very noticeable, but if the photo had come straight from my camera the difference in both size and ‘weight’ would have been dramatic.

Keep it small

People who use dial-up don’t appreciate huge email messages, and even people with broadband might not want huge emails. A handy rule of thumb is to try to keep email messages below about 100Kb for dial-up users and below one or two megabytes for broadband users.

If you have a lot of photos to share consider finding another way to do it, such as Flickr or a file-sharing service.

Useful KnowIT articles

  1. The skinny on images in web pages and email
  2. Flocking to the pictures
  3. Power Up to a Flash Slideshow
  4. How to send big files

Mail.app has other interesting ‘integration’ features too. We’ll look at them in other Tips.

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2 Comments

  1. Miraz Jordan said:

    Adrian, I don’t use Apple Mail myself, but it shouldn’t be resizing the photo differently from how you’ve set it.

    How big (in pixels) is the original photo? The purpose of this menu is to make the photos smaller. Are you perhaps trying to make it bigger? I imagine that would not work.

  2. Adrian said:

    Good article but for some reason whatever I re-size the photo to with this it is getting re-sized again to small by something in mail. Can’t figure what it is :-(

    Sometimes I find Macs really infuriating and counter-intuitive.

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